The Empty Grave haunted house has been gracing Southern California with scares for seven years now. This year, the event has been completely re-designed, which has paid off for them in spades. The new layout features a plethora of twists and turns, all brimming with interesting decor as well as eager talent. We got the chance to go through twice on the last night of their opening weekend and were very impressed with the energy levels displayed by their all-volunteer cast of monsters.

Creator of The Empty Grave, Mike Talarico, told us they have anywhere from 15 to 20 monsters on-hand each evening, with a total cast of about 25. The process of putting The Empty Grave together starts right after Halloween of the previous year. That’s when Talarico and Co. begin putting ideas done for what they hope to accomplish in the next year’s run. The actual design process takes about three months and building takes an additional three months. The results are clear, however, with several gags and gimmicks throughout the maze which all work very well in helping heighten tension and mood. One of the most memorable areas of the maze included the best use and placement of a strobe light I have seen in a long time.

The one thing that struck me most was the variety displayed by the talent inside the maze. There was never too much of any one kind of “scare tool”, which has always been a pet peeve of mine when it comes to haunted houses. There were a couple “thunder jugs” (gas cans full of noisy  items), a couple shaker cans, and even one set of gloves that made a clicking sound when the fingers were tapped together. Some used their voices to scare while others relied on physical twitches and contortions. While most of these implements have been mainstays at haunted events for years – it was sheer variety here which helped to keep things interesting, leaving you never quite knowing what was waiting around the next corner. Also effective was that the scares did not always come from where you expected. Actors found several very unexpected nooks and crannies to hide in before descending upon unknowing guests.

When asked about some ideas that did not quite make it into this year’s design, Talarico mentioned that some ideas were always shot down by the fire marshal for “legality reasons”. One idea that did not quite make it was some sort of tunnel where guests would have to crawl through to get to the next area! Talarico also mention just how proud he was of his cast and crew this year for all their hard work and dedication to the event. Having experienced The Empty Grave, that pride is well-deserved.

The Empty Grave is a great scare-experience and a must-see for you Southern California residents looking for some down home haunted house goodness. Tickets run $13 dollars each, but there is also a 2 for $20 deal guests can take advantage of when they bring a friend. Also of note is that the attraction is located within the walls of the Anaheim Garden Walk outdoor mall complex, so you can grab some food and relax after your experience in The Empty Grave.

The Empty Grave runs Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays (with some weekdays thrown in as well) throughout October. Checkout their FULL WEBSITE for ticket information and more.

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Jerry Paxton

A long-time fan and reveler of all things Geek, I am also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of